CONCORD, N.H. – NHTI Athletic Director Paul Hogan has announced the first ever Hall of Fame class slated for induction on Friday, September 20. The class of former coaches, athletes and special contributors to NHTI Athletics will have the distinction of being members of the first Hall of Fame class in school history.
“Our first class of inductees is an amazing group of athletes and coaches” says Hogan on the fall 2019 class. “Their many contributions, athletic exploits and careers have left a distinct legacy at NHTI. We look forward to celebrating their athletic careers, sharing their stories and reuniting for an exciting night of athletic memories.
The 2019 class includes Katie Stockton (Claremont/Soccer), Chris “Speedy” Lawes (Peterborough/Basketball), Mel (Keeler) Crane (Concord/Softball), Shalynn (Napolitano) Ouellette (Lawrence, Mass/Softball), Lauren (Daniels) Last (Concord/Basketball), Nick Papamichael (Raymond/Soccer), Nacho Hernando (Spain/Cross Country), Heather Searles (Henniker/Cross Country), Katie (O’Connell) Lacey (Northwood/Volleyball, Luke Merrill (Pittsburg/Baseball), Austin Fox (Hooksett/Golf), Bob Bechard (Manchester/Basketball), Andrew Bird (Hollis/Soccer) along with soccer coaches Steve Ambra (women) and Don Welford (men).
Stockton is a member of the USCAA first ever Hall of Fame class (2017) recognized for her soccer exploits leading the USCAA in scoring along with conference championships and USCAA post season appearances. Stockton was a three-time USCAA All-American. She was also recognized as the William O’Claire Female Athlete of the Year in 2005 and 2006 along with the team MVP.
Lawes played all four years at NHTI and was a key member of the USCAA national championship men’s basketball team in 2005. His scoring exploits helped him to be recognized as a USCAA All-American while serving as the NHTI team captain and being recognized as the William O’Claire Male Athlete of the Year in 2006 and 2007. Lawes was recognized on the USCAA All-Tournament team in 2005 and in 2006.
(Keeler) Crane was a dominant pitching force on the softball diamond for Coach Deb Smith leading the Capitals (now Lynx) to a 14-1 overall record and the NNESCC championship. During her time at NHTI, she was named a USCAA All-American, all-conference, team MVP and the NHTI 2001 William O’Claire Female Athlete of the Year. She went on to SNHU and completed an amazing career for the Penmen receiving several accolades.
(Napolitano) Ouellette was the mainstay pitcher for Coach Deb Smith for our Lynx leading the softball team to a record of 13-1 and the NNESCC championship. She was recognized as a USCAA All-American, team MVP and all conference. Ouellette continued her collegiate career at Assumption College.
(Daniels) Last played a key role on the Coach Shelley Winter’s basketball teams and earning MVP honors, USCAA second team All-American and USCAA Academic All-American in 2006. Last was named YSCC All-Conference team and the O’Claire Female Athlete of the Year in 2006. Last continued her career at Plymouth State serving as a key player on Panther basketball teams.
Papamichael led the Lynx to conference titles and an USCAA championship national runner-up in men’s soccer. His stellar play at the midfield position set a high standard while garnering all conference and USCAA All-American recognition on consecutive years. Papamichael earned team MVP awards twice leading the Lynx to YSCC tournament titles in 2009 and 2010.
Hernando became a highly recognizable force on the cross-country trails leading Coach Tom Walton’s teams to conference championships, earning all-conference recognition and finishing second at the USCAA National Championships in 2013. Hernando was the NHTI MVP every season of competition while being recognized as the USCAA National Runner-up in 2013 and the William O’Claire Male Athlete of the Year award in 2014.
Searles became NHTI’s only athlete to ever capture a National Championship. She did this at the 2008 National Cross-Country championships in Buena Vista, Virginia. Her leadership and determination were key attributes for the three-time USCAA All-American as she rose through the New England running circles capturing victories at many prestigious meets. Searles earned William O’Claire Female Athlete of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
(O’Connell) Lacey led NHTI volleyball to back to back championships and two USCAA national championship appearances. O’Connell was recognized as the William O’Claire Female Athlete of the Year in 2009. Lacey was a two-time USCAA All-American, the YSCC tournament MVP and Player of the Year in 2007.
Merrill earned MVP team honors both years at NHTI playing shortstop and pitcher for Eric Duquette’s Lynx teams. Merrill went on to play baseball at Plymouth State earning numerous team and individual honors for the Panthers. The Lynx enjoyed great success during Merrill’s time at NHTI leading the team to their only USCAA small college world series appearance.
Fox graduated from Central High School in Manchester and was the top golfer for two years leading the Lynx to back-to-back YSCC championships and an amazing 3rd place finish at the USCAA national championship. Fox went onto become a key member of the SNHU golf team. Fox was recognized as the 2012 William O’Claire Male Athlete of the Year.
Bechard played many sports during two different stints at NHTI in the early and late 70’s. His many contributions to men’s basketball, baseball and other teams during his time were widely recognized and earned him the prestigious William O’Claire Male Athlete of the Year award in 1977.
Bird was an outstanding midfielder and defensive leader of the NHTI men’s soccer team that went to the National Small College Soccer Championships in Kansas finishing as the runner-up. A native of Hollis, NH, Bird, he was earned All-American honors for the Capitals under Coach Bill Miller.
Ambra was the first coach for the NHTI women’s soccer program and built an incredibly successful program coaching 14 years leading the Lynx to a 141-73-12 record with 8 conference championship seasons and 7 national tournament appearances. Ambra was always proud of the many All-Americans and 13 Academic All-Americans during his tenure as the head coach of Lynx women’s soccer. Ambra also coached NHTI Bowling team from 2010-2012.
Welford enjoyed two very successful coaching stints at NHTI in the early 2000’s and again from 2011-2013. With an overall coaching record of 82-32-3. His teams captured several conference championships and appeared in USCAA national tourneys in Texas, West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia and Indiana. Welford teams were well known for an exciting style of fast aggressive gritty play challenging the very best teams in the USCAA.